Teaching with Small Group Math Instruction

Bonjour – and happy October!

Can you believe another September is already in the books?

In case you missed it, I posted about small group communication orale a couple weeks ago. In that post, I mentioned another subject I love doing with small groups – math!

I don’t see all my students in small math groups every day (I still LOVE the math workshop model – more about that soon!), but I do try to see the students at least once a week in a small group to target some specific skills they need to work on (number sense especially, but also those few students who sometimes don’t fully grasp another unit, like measurement).

In this blog post, I’ll go over what my small group math routine looks like.

Teaching with Small Group Math Instruction

When do I do small group math?

As I’ve shared with you, I still love the “workshop model” for math, where I do a warm up, whole group lesson, and then my students practice our target skill with some partner practice. I love how this allows EVERYONE to practice the concept we are working on, every day.
But, I know that teaching with small groups really helps me differentiate, make sure I’m reaching all my students, and bridge any gaps that might be present, so I like to add that in as well.
The “meat” of my math instruction (the bulk of my time) is still the workshop model (approx 30-45 minutes), but that still leaves me with 20-30 minutes/day where I can pull small groups. I usually do this at the end of the day, when my students’ whole group lesson stamina is lowest.
I only see 1-2 groups per day,  and depending on how long our main lesson was, I only need 20-40 minutes of time. Of course, you could do it at any time of day; this is just when I find it works best for me!

How exactly do I do it?

Just like with communication orale, I start with an assessment that helps me form my groups based on the skills my students haven’t mastered yet. The assessments I use are included in my small group math units (only one is available at the moment, but more are on the way!).
At this time of day (the end of the day), I find it best to let the rest of my students do what they do best… play!
I set out a variety of math manipulates, math puzzles, etc. for them. Sometimes I assign them to a table, but as long as it works for the group, I prefer to let them choose.
The routine for my small group lessons is the same each day:
  • Warm up (fluency/number formation practice)
  • Mini lesson
  • Student practice (while I take notes)
  • Exit ticket (my students have a journal they glue these into)
Simple and consistent!
Here’s an example of the kind of hands-on practice for number sense my students might do at this time – the student spun a spinner, added that many pompoms to a 10 frame (working left to right), then wrote the number himself:

Why do I love small group math instruction so much?

First of all, time with my students in small groups is always fun – I love seeing them for more personalized instruction!
The small groups also make report cards easy – I get a lot of valuable notes during this time for each and every student. They also help me help clarify for/reteach those few students who maybe didn’t finish a math workshop unit successfully or with a solid grasp of the material.
It’s easy to pull groups who are struggling more often, and groups who have a concept mastered less often, which helps me meet everyone’s needs. Small groups are an especially amazing way to differentiate for a combined class, like I was supposed to have this year… but they make differentiation easy if you have a single grade level class as well!
I have pre-created my lessons over the years, so everything I need is at my fingertips. It’s also easy to skip or redo lessons as necessary as they are all right in front of me.

Want to try it out?

I have one unit of 20 lessons for numbers 1-10 currently available on TPT. I’m working on getting more ready to go, but that’s it for now.
You can also sample a lesson from that pack for free by clicking HERE and entering your name & email address. I’ll send you everything you need for your first small group lesson!
Teaching with Small Group Math Instruction
Inside of the free sample, I have included the pages from my small group unit that go over what’s included as part of the whole resource for the warm up, as well as talk about a pre-test/post-test and taking anecdotal notes.
I included one warm-up option as part of the free sample (numeral formation practice) – everything else can be found inside the whole unit on TPT.
Grab your free sample lesson HERE!

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